The 4 Things You Need to Bake Better, Juicier Chicken Breasts

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Susanna Hopler)

Although a wildly popular go-to dinner protein, chicken breasts often get a bad rap. There’s so little fat in a boneless, skinless chicken breast that many home cooks end up with something that’s dry or tasteless. (Then you get those groans from your family: Chicken again?) We have a foolproof method, though, that will result in moist, tender, and flavorful meat every time.

It’s technically called “dry-poaching,” and it’s far easier than it sounds. You just need some chicken (obviously), our instructions, and a few other supplies. Check out this list and get shopping. Don’t worry, these aren’t one-off unitasker tools that you’ll only use for chicken; you’ll end up using them again and again for other recipes, too.

(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

1. Good-but-inexpensive olive oil

You’re going to be rubbing things — chicken, a baking dish, and parchment paper! — with olive oil. (You can use butter, if you prefer.) The chicken gets rubbed with oil because fat is a carrier of flavor and will aid in the cooking. The other two get rubbed with oil so that your chicken doesn’t stick to them. You don’t need anything super-fancy or expensive here. A good bottle from the supermarket will do. (We suggest giving this post on our favorite grocery store olive oil a read.)

Buy it: California Olive Ranch Olive Oil, from $15 for 16.9 ounces

2. Salt and pepper

This may seem like a silly thing to put on this list, because salt and pepper are crucial ingredients for nearly every recipe, but they are important and we would be wrong to leave them out. On its own, chicken is bland. You’ve gotta add salt and pepper! More than you think you need!

Buy It

3. A baking dish

These chicken breasts are headed to the oven (not the stovetop), so you’re going to need a good baking dish. We like this set because you get a square two-quart dish, which is great for two people, and a longer, three-quart option, which can hold four or more chicken breasts.

4. Parchment paper

Before you put the chicken in the oven to bake, you cover it with a piece of parchment paper. The paper acts like the chicken’s missing skin, protecting the chicken and preventing it from drying out. The method is sort of a cross between braising and roasting. You can buy parchment paper in sheets (an option we tend to prefer) or in rolls, if you’d rather tuck the stuff into a drawer with your aluminum foil and plastic wrap.

Buy it: If You Care FSC Certified Parchment Baking Paper, $4.50 for 70 square feet